Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What I learned at SXSW...yet another one

Him: (eyeing my SXSW "panelist" badge) I believe I met with your company's European branch on my last trip to London.

Me: (torn between disbelief, laughter or a swift kick to the groin) I think you have me confused with someone else.

No London office. No private jet. No holier than thou attitude. Just little old me...about to kick your VIP self in the groin.

Before leaving for Austin I wrote about being on the fence about SXSW this year. I am seeing this echoed across the blogosphere. Looks like SXSW could be jumping the shark, making room for more intimate focused grassroots conferences to emerge (eh, hem TribeCon, cough cough). But to quote Marc Nathan I'm not jumping on the ‘down with SXSW bandwagon.'

While I wasn't as fulfilled or inspired as last year, it was a valuable learning experience. A few lessons:

1. Intimacy trumps Popularity: Cool cliques are what you make them. Screw the lines and the lists. Find like minds and congregate. The best party I attended was the NOLA party. The second best was when I led our group of 15 peeps into an empty bar- not a popular decision, mind you- and started a pretty spectacular dance party. All we needed was us. Getting wrapped on on finding the party ruins the party.

2. Focus, grasshopper: Crowded management sessions show that more folks are trying to harness creativity and social media in a measurable efficient way. Process is the new black. Forget followers. (There's a bot for that.) Focus on fundamentals like strategy, goals and accountability.

3. Take this job and love it: I love my job. My clients are the bomb. And one of the greatest things about social media is the ability to even the playing field and pin point opportunity for the little guys to win big. And maybe even stick it to the man.

Speaking of which, what happens when you are the man? How does an anti-establishment instigator create an establishment? Now, that's what I want to learn- management skills for people with problems with authority. I hope SXSW is listening.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

SXSW: South By South Wasted?

Confession: I have been on the fence about going back to SXSW this year. Hearing it referred to as SXSpringBreak this afternoon didn't help much. Obviously, it doesn't bolster the matrimonial bliss to have Hubby think I am heading to some hedonistic romp to get crazy naked least not without him. But, more importantly, it makes me question the value proposition that I am sacrificing several days of Danger time for.

Last year was a magical experience. I was on the cusp of a new endeavor and surrounded by a bunch of rabble rousing idealists who felt we were making a difference and leaving our mark. I was also naive and admittedly easy impressed by shiny objects. The past 12 months have taught me some hard lessons in looking past the smoke and mirrors to critically assess the BS hidden beneath some big red bows. And, I am savvy enough to know that I can download recycled presentations from conference circuit keynotes on Slideshare without any travel expenses or hefty entrance fee. I might not get a chance to shake hands with Twitterati. My loss.

Don't get me wrong. I am honored to be a part of the New Orleans tech crew taking the city by storm. And my ego is through the roof at being part of a SXSW panel. Not to mention, my schedule is double and triple booked with panels that I am excited to see. Where I look forward to learning something, multiple new things that I can bring back to enhance FSC. Which brings me to the question- Is SXSW still the place to learn from the best of the best?

I've seen some pretty stellar things happening at small grassroots conferences across the country- Big Omaha, Social South and even my little baby TribeCon. Conference that are low on glitz but big on substance. Low on corporate sponsors but big on community. Low on douchebaggery and big on authenticity.

It's no big secret that I kind of like sticking it to the man and rallying for the little guy. Maybe I am just being jaded. It wouldn't be the first time. I promise not to judge or make assumptions based purely on what could just be a successful growth model. I am hoping to have an incredible and magical experience. In fact, I am betting a lost weekend with my favorite people on it. Not a trifling wager.

What do you think? What are some of the reasons you are or aren't going to SXSW?

PS. Be forewarned, Mr. "un-popular in high school and making up for it on Twitter" douchebag person, what happens at SXSW does not in fact stay at SXSW. It perpetuates a swarmy and silly misrepresentation that discredits the merit of the conference. And if you ruin SXSW for me, and for the hundreds of others who are hoping for more than networking with the beautiful people, I will be angry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's a Very Brady Wednesday

sap·py (sp)
adj. sap·pi·er, sap·pi·est
1. Full of sap; juicy.
2. Slang Excessively sentimental; mawkish.
3. Slang Silly or foolish.

You've been warned. The following contains excessive sentimental content.

Maybe I am just getting to the New Year's point where you take stock of your life. Between the Superbowl (Who Dat!), Mardi Gras and well, life, there hasn't been whole lot of time to be introspective. But, every once in a while it hits me completely out of the blue...Life is good.

I have a job. More importantly for the first time I feel like I have a career, doing what I love with people and clients that are challenging. And not in the "holy hell what now? Just shoot me." way. In the "holy hell what's next? Just pinch me." way.

I have a family. Sure Grandma is a little crazy and Danger got kicked out isn't quite ready for nursery school. But she said "squirrel", hasn't gotten any more colds and her new nanny misses her on the weekends.

Hubby is about to realize his life long dream of owning his own place. A jazz bar with gourmet food. On Frenchmen. Pretty much the place to be. And is Tweeting about it.

I live in a city that is reinventing the American dream. Where douchebags old white guys bureaucracy, hipsters and feisty instigators can coexist.

My BFF invites me over for homemade pate. 7 different kinds of homemade pate. And two days later I get to return the favor with 40 pounds of boiled crawfish.

Sure, there are issues. My waistline being just one (see above re: pate & crawfish). But who am I to complain?

Who am I kidding? Yours Truly lives to complain. But not right now. Right now I am going to enjoy the silly sappy happy feeling of being pretty damn happy.

PS Eff you laundry. Yes, I see you and the dust bunnies silently plotting my demise. You will not kill my buzz. Same goes for you, Mr. Time Sheet.